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This American Flag is special on so many counts and is highly deserving of its place in the showcase.  On almost every level, the flag itself is a folk art masterpiece.  Its star count of 41 is exceptionally rare. Its nine stripes are highly unusual.  Its square shape, seemingly stunted stripes of varying widths, and relatively small size for a flag of sewn construction (just 32 inches by 34 inches) result in an appealing homemade feel. The canton rests on the red war stripe, yet another rare trait.  And the stars of the flag, which are single-applique, dance freely on the canton and are stretched and asymmetrical in shape.

One might think that this flag is an extraordinarily whimsical creation to celebrate Montana's statehood as the 41st state on November 8, 1889.  Without provenance and a good bit of textile examination, this would be the obvious assumption.  Yet the joy of this flag stems not from celebrating the introduction of a new state.  This flag shows the joy felt by the people of Saone, France following their liberation from Nazi Germany during a period of 83 days from September 8 to November 29, 1944.  This flag belongs to a rare class of highly sought after flags known as Liberation Flags.  Collectively, they're a fascinating subset of American Flags. They have great symbolic meaning, because they were made by people in a very poignant international display of appreciation for the great sacrifices Americans made to liberate them from oppression. The thought behind why they were made and what they represent is as stirring a story of what the American Flag represents as any. They are also beautiful because of the great variation in their construction. The flags were made from whatever material was at hand, so they are often very folky and have a charming "make do" quality about them. It was also very common for them to have fewer (or even more) than the 48 stars that were official at the time of the war. That's because while many people know what the flag looks like in general, they may not have known the detail of the correct star count. So often these flags have unusual star counts or configurations, which is the case with this flag. Regardless of which war it was made for (WWI or WWII), 48 stars would have been official for either. Most often, liberation flags are WWII vintage, primarily because of the dramatic nature of the liberation from Nazi Germany that started on D-Day at Normandy. These flags are still cherished in France and are still a reminder of the ties between our countries, and are much sought after by collectors of American Flags.


Learn more about Liberation Flags. Star Count:  41

Dates:  1944

War Era:  World War II

Statehood:  None Intended

Construction:  Cotton, Homemade

Catalog Number:  IAS-00181


48 Star Great Medallion
circa 1912


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